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Are We In For A Drought? The Region's Dry Weather Suggests Yes

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This is shaping up to be the driest February on record in parts of the west. The combination of low rainfall and warmer than average temperatures has produced an official state of “moderate drought” in both Northern California and Southern Oregon. And there’s little good news in the forecast.

The Climate Prediction Center forecasts for both 1 and 3 months into the future are calling for above-normal temperatures and below-normal or near-normal precipitation. The Center also says our region warrants a close watch for a worsening drought.

With only two months remaining in the wettest time of the year, the Klamath Basin's rainfall total is at 69 percent of normal, and the Rogue and Umpqua Basin is at 75 percent. Streamflow in the region's many rivers is one of the best indicators of future fire danger. Those, too, reflect a worsening water picture.

Some long-range forecasts predict only a 15 percent chance of normal rain totals by the end of spring. A high-pressure ridge over the Pacific is keeping wet weather offshore; the same condition that existed just prior to the last drought.